I was worried that I wouldn't have time to do the Q&A this week, but alas, it's 8pm, nothing good is on TV, and Will is making me wait a bit before we watch a Redbox movie (...he's playing a video came that will go nameless. Oy.) Q: How do you decide how to edit each photo? A: I go with my gut. Some photos just look better as a black and white, or with a sweet color pop, or even with a vintage wash. Honestly, sometimes I get bored while I am editing and decide to play around. There really is no rhyme or reason to it, although maybe there should be? I think each photographer is different.
For example, this photo was great in color and I was tempted to leave it that was, but as soon as I played with a black and white version, it really came to life.
I also really love a vintage edit. This usually looks best on airy, lighthearted images. Images that are dramatic deserve dramatic color or a dark, dramatic black and white conversion. Here is a before and after with the vintage wash.
Q: Do you use actions? A:Yes, but not all the time. I use an action for most of my black and whites, although you can easily do your own (DO NOT, and I mean DO NOT use "grayscale". Grayscale = flat, blah, gray conversions) For Photoshop users, go to Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map. Make sure that on your color palette (in your left-hand toolbar, at the bottom) that you have black as your top color and white as your bottom color. Then, simply play around with contrast, curves, etc to find what you like. For my images with color pop, I don't use an action. I usually do it in a series of layers with lots of layer masks to keep the skin from going uber bright. I do soft light layers, multiply layers, and the sponge and burn tools. It's the most complicated type of edit that I do and I usually only do it on a few images in each gallery. As with every aspect of photography, it's a process.
I use an action for most of my vintage/airy edits. It was a free action shared on one of my photography forums. So, keep your eyes peeled online because some wonderful actions can be found for free! I also recommend Pioneer Woman's action sets. I use her "Warmer" action a lot as my eye usually leads me to create images that are too cool. When I am doing my final edits, I will realize that they need some warmth and this is a great action that I use. Pioneer Woman - Action Set 2 (the set with "Warmer")
Q: I always get so nervous before I do a photoshoot. You seem so confident. Do you get nervous, especially before weddings? A:Uh....duh! haha. I don't get as nervous as I used to before portrait shoots, unless it's something out of my comfort zone (I'll keep those a secret for now, buahaha) However, for weddings, I get so nervous on the drive there that I feel sick to my stomach. As an adult, I rarely get those butterflies like I used to as a kid and teenager, but wedding days definitely bring 'em back! My cure? Loud, fun music. Once I am actually at the wedding and working, every single bit of my nerves go away. I start to have fun and even during the most stressful moments of a wedding, I'm not nervous at all. I think that's why I am a decent wedding photographer. It's so easy to be scared and you simply can't do your best work while you are a ball of nerves. You have to leave it at the door.
'Tis all for now! Feel free to keep sending questions! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org